Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Iwo Jima Day

Iwo Jima, where uncommon valor was a common virtue. When the Marines raised the flag, Secratary of the Navy Forrestal said "This means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years"

Art - "Uncommon Valor"


Grimmy said...

Some back story for that "Marine Corps for the next 500 years".

The top dogs in both the US Army and US Navy had made it a priority to end the existence of the USMC since the birth of the USMC.

Both "senior services" saw the USMC as something that was either a waste of resources and budget dollars or something that should belong exclusively to themselves in terms of manpower and capability.

Marines were treated like trash by Army and Navy commands. In the days of sail, Marine detachment commanders aboard ships were placed in the chain of command below the lowest Midshipman. Marines were often denied their lawful share of prize monies from captured enemy ships.

Things did not change for the better as time went by either.

Also, that admiral was dang near wrong. By the outbreak of the Korean War, the USMC had been reduced to 2 understrength regiments. One on each coast of the US. The manpower alotment for the USMC had been cut back so harshly, that the "reserves" were enlisted under an unofficial "summer reserve" program where young men were simply on hold for openings within the Corps as they became available. Nothing much in the way of training was provided in the summer reserves due to lack of funds and lack of manpower to provide the training.

The "Fire Brigade" that went to the relief of the Pusan Pocket in Korea was made from the two understrength regiments available. The following regiments that made up the rest of the division that met up with the Fire Brigade just off shore of at Inchon prior to the landing, was every man in the Corps that could be scraped out of admin job slots, ships detachments, naval station guard posts, brigs (for non felony offenses) and every other place where men could be cut loose from current duty and reassigned. Upwards of 20% of those that made up the division were "summer reserves" called up. Those men had never been to bootcamp, never received organized training of any sort other than, for some, a one day use of a rifle range prior to shipping out and whatever lectures could be provided while aboard ship in rout to the fight.

Both Truman and Eisenhower made it a point in their administrations to end the Corps existence between the end of WW2 and the beginning of the Korean War. They damn near succeeded.

A good book to read for the history of the Corps and insight into what makes it peculiar is "First to Fight" by Gen Krulak (USMC, ret). It's not a battle story book, but an insiders look at the history and workings of the USMC.

Grimmy said...

Sorry, forgot...

Semper Fidelis!
(it was never just a slogan)

Winston said...

Check the Marine Corps pics I took...